The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Thoughts about Thoughts

Larry does a wonderful job explaining why I have a “play no prototypes” rule, although I’m sure that wasn’t his intent.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly impressed with Kingsburg or Airships. Stone age earned a few plays, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up a copy. I (obviously) didn’t try any of the prootypes.

I tried “In the Year of the Dragon.” It’s worth playing again, one of the ‘generally good but not huge’ Alea games. I could see this growing on me or … not.

I updated my geeklist on Tom’s games … I’m sure others knew he has a card game being published by Z-Man later this year, but I didn’t know. I did know about the Race Expansion, natch.

Update: Just to clarify one thing, I actually don’t mind playing prototypes during the rest of the year. Just FYI.


Written by taogaming

April 20, 2008 at 10:04 am

Posted in Misc

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5 Responses

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  1. I found Airships rather enjoyable, but I like the theme and the job the game does with the theme, right down to the pictures of Zeppelin and Moffet in the game. Not a favorite, perhaps, but a keeper. Kingsburg I enjoyed, but it felt too abstract as to really draw me in. (Of course, I actually enjoy Lucky Loop – dice are fine by me if the theme draws me in.)

    Stone Age, OTOH, fails to engage me, and so the flaws (the 3x huts technology card, for instance) stand out far more.

    Joe (who didn’t get in as many prototypes as preferred last week)

    Joe Huber

    April 20, 2008 at 6:59 pm

  2. re Middle Kingdom– I am so sick of games being described as “fast”! It always makes me think they’re real-time/turnless.

    Doug Orleans

    April 21, 2008 at 2:02 am

  3. I like Kingsburg, though until there are more player mats I’m not sure of its replay value. Airships was fun, too; the artwork and theming seemed to fit well. Stone Age didn’t appeal to me, because the pips on your rolls translate directly to VPs. The VP tokens don’t vary much in value; the better ones are simply bigger with the same value for resources. All three are essentially abstract dice games, of course. I probably like them in order of their length: Airships is fastest, Kingsburg is moderately fast, and Stone Age is the longest. Good rule of thumb: dice games ought to be short.


    April 24, 2008 at 11:16 am

  4. Jeff, you may want to check out some of the Stone Age threads on the Geek, where some of the strategies (including the dreaded “starvation” strategy) are being discussed. It may convince you that there’s a little bit more going on than the direct conversion of dice rolls to VPs.

    Also, I wouldn’t consider Stone Age to be a dice game, certainly not like Airships is. Stone Age is a worker placement game which happens to use dice as a resolution device. I don’t think of Settlers as a dice game either and it certainly isn’t very short.

    Larry Levy

    April 24, 2008 at 12:11 pm

  5. Larry, I just read the thread about starvation. It seems obvious to me (though perhaps wrongly) that starvation should be viable, as the numbers work out to make it roughly even. And that’s the basic issue I have: pretty much everything you do converts pips to VPs at a little less than 1 pip to 1 VP. So a player who rolls 30 pips more than another player is going to beat that other player most of the time. Let’s see—how often will that happen? Let’s say the game goes 10 turns. If a player averages 7 meeples per turn, that’s 70 dice. Sigma of a die is 1.71 pips. One sigma for 70 dice is roughly 14.3 pips. So 30 is about two sigma, which happens often enough. Yes, there’s a bunch of other stuff, but the core of the game is converting pips to VPs at roughly 1-1, and the number of pips one has varies quite a bit. (Sanity check: 70 dice = 245 pips. At .8 VP/pip, that’s about 200 VPs, which looks like a normal number, though it appears to vary quite a bit.)

    In general, I don’t mind a fair bit of randomness in games, but I prefer not to have the randomness so directly linked to scores.

    Is it a dice game? That argument isn’t so clear. It’s not a dice game like Can’t Stop is, but it’s far more so than Settlers. There is a mechanism for manipulating the dice (tools), which is usually indicative of a dice game, though, of course, not uniformly. It’s hard to say, I guess, but it seemed to me that the game was all about maximizing the use of the pips you rolled on dice in order to convert them to VPs efficiently. The game play is mostly about efficiency, but partly about picking numbers of dice and manipulating rolls. Does that make it a dice game? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll recant and go with “partly a dice game.”

    Upon reflection—there appear to be numbers here which can give us an estimate of the skill vs. luck component in the game. Dice will vary up to 2 sigma most of the time; 3 is an uncommon occurrance. So assuming 250 pips starting resources, we’ll see player’s resources varying by about 30 pips, or a little over 10%. From the starvation thread, folks have concluded that efficiency tends to run between .8 and .85. That’s only 5%. There is some gaming in taking spots that players desperately need, though that will tend only to cost the losing player one die. Overall, it looks like randomness and skill look pretty close to even. That’s not so bad, I guess; games where the strongest player always wins tend to be less fun (particularly for everyone else) than ones in which everyone is perceived to have a reasonable chance.


    April 28, 2008 at 10:51 am

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